Coming into the season, the Yankees had lost a big power bat in Russell Martin. 39 homers and 118 RBI over two seasons had signed with Pittsburgh, leaving a hole in the Yankees lineup. Instead of signing a big name like A.J. Pierzynski, GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi were adamant that the team was going to go with the options already in-house. Francisco Cervelli would get the bulk of the duties behind the plate, with Chris Stewart backing him up.
After Cervelli went down with a broken hand in late April, Stewart was asked to move into a starting role. Along with Austin Romine, the Yankees went forth with an unlikely catching duo that looked weak on paper. Well, Chris Stewart has surprised many, amassing the second highest batting average on the New York Yankees (.276).
A career .217 hitter coming into 2013 – a career which spanned over stops with the White Sox, Rangers, Yankees (’08), Padres and Giants – Stewart was billed as a top defensive receiver – possessing one of the quickest releases in the game. 2013 is a little bit different, as Stewart has been tasked with guiding the pitching rotation, all while providing important at-bats. In Sunday’s game started by King Felix, a game in which offense was hard to come by, it was Stewart’s RBI single that gave the Yankees the lead late in the game – a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Stewart’s career-high in hits is 34, which he obtained last season in 141 at-bats. This year, he already has 27 in 98 at-bats, on pace to set a new career mark. His offense won’t land him any all-star appearances or put him on the leaderboard, but it’s just enough. That’s a phrase that basically summarizes this Yankee offense, which is very average – “just enough.”
After fans were left scratching their heads about why Russell Martin was let go, that outcry has calmed down a bit as the season has gone on. Right now, Martin is hitting .246 (42-for-171) with seven homers and 17 RBI. If you take the production between Cervelli (who has been on the DL since late April) and Stewart, you get .271 (41-for-151) with six homers and 18 RBI.